What is Philanthropy?
There are so many ways to think about philanthropy…it used to be defined as a way to promote the welfare of others, mostly through the generous donation of money. But it’s taken a more modern turn to include promoting goodwill to other people.
I dare say philanthropy is bigger than money. There are so many words that can be used to describe it instead: Charity, Giving, Compassion, Helping, Volunteering, Altruism, Kindness, Community, Support, Good Deed, Noble, Connection, Legacy, Contribution, Generosity.
However we choose to describe it, it’s looking outside ourselves to see what we can offer others. And this is something we can be modeling for our children from a very young age.
Moving into the holidays, I’d like to propose we take a step back from materialism, the stress of buying gifts, and really look at what we can do to help others during a season that is about love, gratitude, and giving. Let’s take steps to make the end of 2018 a memorable one. We can give ourselves permission to make this the year we stop stressing about finding the perfect trinket or this year’s “hot” toy. Instead, we’ll go into the New Year with full hearts knowing we didn’t put ourselves into unnecessary debt while helping others. What a true gift—for ourselves and our children.
Choose a goal (or goals) from the list below or create your own!
* Establish a living legacy of philanthropy
* Figure out what causes are important to you and your family
* Donate to charities in lieu of holiday gifts
* Choose gifts that are associated with charities
* Research potential charities in depth
* Come up with a family donation system
* Model generosity for my children
* Be more transparent with giving – how, when, & why
* Keep giving on our constant “to do” list
What our Philanthropy Guided Journal will look like:
Here’s an overview of what is in store each week during November!
Week One: Identify charities & causes that are important to you and your family
Week Two: Research
Week Three: Gratitude & Action
Week Four: Legacy in Action
Identify charities & causes that are important to you and your family.
Write about what philanthropy means to you. Have you heard the word before? How would you describe a philanthropist? Do you fit that description?
Look at the list of alternative words for philanthropy (listed above). Which of those words speaks to you most? Why?
When I asked mamas to define philanthropy, many of them answered, “philanthropy is for rich people.”
Why do you think people believe that? Do you believe only rich people can be philanthropic? Do you believe YOU are philanthropic? Do you believe your children can be, even at a young age?
Switch out the word philanthropy for one of the words that spoke to you from the description above. Do you believe only rich people can [your word]? Do you believe you are [your word]? Do you believe your children can be [your word]?
Do your beliefs about [your word] and philanthropy match up? Do you feel like something as simple as word choice can keep people from giving? What word or words compel you to feel empowered to help others? Write about it.
What causes call to your heart? List them by theme or be specific and list charities. Include why they speak to you and what about them makes you want to help.
What causes are important to each member of your family? Your partner? Each child? What interests them?
If your child is still tiny and can’t articulate a cause, what do they like? Dogs? Food? Mommy? If your baby loves dogs, perhaps a cause you could associate with that interest would be a dog rescue. If they like food, a food pantry. If they are into mommy, a shelter or program that helps mothers.
Come up with a family list of what causes or ideas are important to your family (even if they don’t align with your own).
Identify what hurdles keep you from practicing philanthropy. Are you too busy? Do you forget that donating to charities is an option? Is money tight? Write about them. No shame…we can’t work around something until we know what that something is. We all have hurdles, mama.
Yesterday you identified your hurdles, today is all about coming up with creative ways to work around them. Short on time: could you make a donation instead? Short of money: could you donate time? Short on time and money: could you collect unused items in your home to donate? Can’t make a donation: could you ask for a donation to a favorite cause as a gift? Could you spend time simply spreading the word about a favorite cause?
Brainstorm as a family. Look online or start a conversation with friends & family—find creative ways to benefit your community and causes. Keep your generosity goals in mind when coming up with creative solutions: does your solution promote connection, community, generosity, support, & kindness?
Another thought is to consider is how & where you spend your money…do you support local stores and small businesses? Do you eat out on nights when restaurants are hosting fundraisers? Do you support your friends’ businesses for basic needs or gifts? Do you search small shops on sites like Etsy? Or gift products that make a difference (like The Obakki Foundation’s Scarves for Water program—the sale of 500 scarves raises enough money to drill a water well for a village in Africa. The scarf makes a beautiful gift with a purpose).
For some families, it’s not about giving their money away, but spending it creatively to support small businesses or make purchases that make an obvious impact…just a thought to consider when coming up with creative ideas to help your money (& family!) make a positive difference.
Do you have a family system in place for donating to charity? Is it a family value that is not only intellectual, but actual? You know in your mind and heart that you want to give…do you take action as well? Do you have a jar, piggy bank, savings account, or % of income that is designated for charitable giving? Is your current system more spur of the moment and you donate as causes cross your path? Do you donate out of guilt? Do you pre-plan? What guidelines do you use for giving? When you give, do you point it out to your children? (Not to be bragging, of course, but just to normalize what/how/when giving takes place).
Write about how and when your family currently donates and how you feel it is serving your family and others.
Take a look at your list of causes from last week, specifically the ones you’re interested in. What are they? What do those organizations need at the moment? If you have specific causes in mind, email or call them. Look them up online and see if they have a list of items of specific events they are hosting. Write them down.
Didn’t have a specific charity in mind? Research causes locally or globally using key words that are important to you: childhood hunger, horse rescue, clean water, mental health, cancer, refugees, native plants…the possibilities are endless. Try not to get hung up on what you *think* you should care about as a mom or woman, but rather what truly speaks to your heart. There is no tier system when it comes to giving—one idea doesn’t have to be more valuable than another. It takes all of us caring about a wide variety of things to make a big difference. Be true to what call is placed on your heart.
Same journal prompt from yesterday, but with each family member’s favorite causes. What are they? What do those organizations need at the moment? Email, call, or look them up online. Write down the details. You can do this separately or with your children. Share the results with them either way.
If they didn’t have specific charities in mind, research causes locally or globally using key words that are important to them. Write down ideas that speak to your (and their) hearts.
Reach out and ask friends (in person, online, or over the phone) about what causes are important to them. This is a great way to get ideas about charities you might not know existed before asking. Write down their answers.
This is also a great way to compile a gift list for later so that when birthdays or holidays roll around, you have the names of charities that are important to them and can make a donation as a gift.
Part of responsible giving is researching charities. Take yesterday’s list and research the charities friends and family suggested. Find out how they use their funds, what they use them for, if they have ratings online, etc. Figure out what criteria are important to you when giving. Write about it.
Part of responsible giving is also finding out what is (and isn’t!) genuinely helpful to an organization. For example, clothing exchanges or shelters might have lists of items they do not need or requirements for the condition of items that are donated. Doing even a small amount of research can avoid a lot of misguided offers to help.
The intention and desire to help can be pure and loving, but some organizations can become bogged down with donations they do not need or cannot use. Some don’t speak up about this because they don’t want to seem ungrateful. Let’s move beyond that song and dance and look closer at what organizations need when we are going to give. A simple phone call or email asking for specifics of what they do and do not need (and then sticking to that list!) can go a long way in genuinely helping a charity.
Come up with a solid, easy to follow savings/giving plan that works for you and your family. This can look like setting aside one day a month to volunteer. It can look like taking a % out of each paycheck or birthday gift to set aside for charity. It can look like setting an honest limit of what you can and cannot give when asked (i.e. we’ll give to two charities per year when randomly asked and politely decline every other time). This doesn’t have to include specific numbers just yet—we’ll get to those next week. Today is about taking a look at the broader picture to see what your plan will include (%s, time, etc).
Include boundaries. Creating boundaries around giving is healthy! We’re asked to give all the time—at events, at the grocery store checkout, sports fundraisers, church, etc. What can you realistically give without creating hardship for your own family? You don’t have to light yourself on fire to keep others warm. Knowing what your boundaries are surrounding giving takes the pressure off of situations when you are asked to give. It allows you to tell the store clerk “no, thank you” when you’re asked if you want to donate on top of your purchase and move on without guilt because you know you already have a giving plan in place. You don’t have to question whether you have a generous heart because you said “no;” instead you can rest easy knowing what is realistic for your family and stick to your pre-established plan.
Giving doesn’t have to be emotional, even when there is an emotional pull. We can take a step back and look at what is: can we realistically afford to give? Having a plan in place will give us an immediate answer we can feel good about.
If you already have a giving system in place, does it need any fine-tuning? Does it include boundaries?
After your research is complete, create a list you can share with family and friends that includes charities that are important to you and your family. Create a second list to use for friends and family that includes charities that are important to them. Keep it in an easy to access place you can refer to often.
Take the ideas from last week’s savings/giving plan and plug in specifics. Come up with the exact numbers for what you can give financially, if applicable.
Take a look at whether you have time in your weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly schedule you could volunteer. No worries if not. Today is simply looking at your schedule and what volunteer options might be available AND realistic.
Are there unused items in your home you can donate? Now is the time to start collecting those and come up with a plan to give them away. Would you like to do this on a regular basis? If so, “budget” (i.e. plan) how often you’d like to do this. Once a year? Once a month? As you notice items not being used? Come up with a family plan as well as how and when you can repurpose/donate unused items.
During this discussion about giving, let’s not forget to take a look at what we have in our lives and be grateful for it. Today is all about gratitude. Spend some time reflecting on what you have. Write about your gratitude for those things. Express that appreciation outside the page as well with a thank you text, hug, or card.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this is a great way to start getting into the spirit of the holiday.
Next week marks the beginning of the holiday craziness. We’re going to be tempted right and left to make purchases for the sake of making purchases. Are impulse purchases something you struggle with? (No shame if you do…stores are designed to create frenzy and urgency. We’re tempted on purpose).
Now is the time to come up with a plan of action for yourself. How can you stay out of the impulse purchase mindset and stay in a more philanthropic mindset? What do you need to tell yourself to keep your philanthropy goals and budget in mind?
What would happen if you moved your philanthropic goals to the top of your giving list this year? Would it help to remember that the $5 you could spend on a trinket would do more good going to a charity? Would it help to write “donations” at the top of your shopping list? Figure out what you need to remember and remind yourself to keep philanthropy on your radar when out shopping.
Giving Idea: If you’re into the idea of changing the spirit of the holiday for your family to a more giving focus, use this time to create your holiday gift list. Include who you would like to honor with a donation as well as the names of specific charities or organizations.
Write down a list of holiday/year end goals for yourself and your family. How does philanthropy specifically fit into those goals?
Habits take time. Goals usually aren’t met in one day—it takes making them a priority, showing up every day, and taking action. That’s why we’ve been thinking about philanthropy every single day this month—in the hopes that giving will become more of an everyday thought.
Are you feeling ready to give? Are you feeling ready to move philanthropy over into your list of family values and keep it there? Write about it. Brainstorm ways you can keep philanthropy an active value for your family.
Legacy is something that you are known for after you pass—something you leave behind for other people and/or organizations. This can look like money, work ethic, kindness, etc. It’s how your life and the way you lived it creates a positive impact after you’re gone. I consider a “living legacy” to be something you are known for while you are alive; the love, kindness, passion, and actions you’re known for now that will live beyond the now. It’s our everyday choices, mindset, and actions. This week will give us an opportunity to bring our thoughts on generosity into action. Do you want giving & philanthropy to be part of your living legacy?
Thank you for putting the “thanks” and the “giving” into Thanksgiving. Today is all about gratitude, family, and friends. The perfect time for reflection. Write about today. Your day, your feelings, who and what you’re grateful for, what you ate, anything that moves you.
And know that I’m grateful for you, yayas. I’m grateful every day to know that I’m not on this mothering journey alone, but that I walk every day alongside my sisters as we grow into the best version of ourselves. Sending you aloha!
Donate today. Take a look at your lists, your plans, your system, and put it into action. As moms we realize we can’t just let these good ideas, intentions, and lessons just sit in our heads…we have to put them into action! Write about what you did today to make your family’s philanthropy plan come to life!
Talking about charities, volunteer opportunities, and raising awareness should not be overlooked. Promote your favorite charity you’ve discovered this month. Write about it.
Donate again. The action of donating and making an impact is not a one day event. Donate again today and write about it – how did it feel? Rushed? Pre-planned? Easy? Different than before? Write about it.
Donate as a gift. Either plan out your gifts (who the donations are for, what occasion, how much time/money/etc) or just do it…donate today and then write a note explaining your gift to the person it is in honor of.
You don’t have to wait until the week before a holiday or a birthday to make a donation of time, money, promotion, etc. You can do it now and save yourself the last minute rush when the deadline is fast approaching.
Chances are high there is more than one organization or charity you and your family are passionate about. Talk about a new one today…promote it online or in person. Write a positive review for them online. Something that helps spread the word. Write about your efforts.
You’ve spent the whole month figuring out what speaks to your heart, what you can honestly afford, researching reputable charities, brainstorming with friends and family, and getting into the giving mindset. Today is the day all of this preparation comes into action. Solidify your giving plan before going into the month of December.
Write about what it took for you to feel “ready” to embrace philanthropy as a family value. Write about what you needed to prepare in order to feel “ready.” Reflect on how you (& your family’s) attitudes and beliefs about giving have changed over the month.
If you were interested in getting all your donations done before the holidays, today is the day to do it!
Our first bonus day each month is always thank you day. Send a note, card, text, email, make a phone call, tell someone in person—thank them for what they do and who they are in your life. Practicing this even just once a month can make a big impact over time…for the person your thanking and yourself.
Tomorrow we start a new Guided Journal topic just in time for holiday mania: Expectations! Why? Because we don’t want holiday mania. Starting this new Guided Journal topic is your declaration that you’re not going to be part of the holiday craziness this year. You’re going to set realistic expectations for your self, your kids, and events. It’s about you taking action and taking control of the holidays. Write down your fist thoughts on “expectations”…and join us back here tomorrow for more Guided Journal prompts as we strengthen ourselves, our families, and clarify our values together!